Like all expatriate Dallasites, I was enormously excited when Rise—the soufflé restaurant that numbers George W. Bush among its original fans—opened a Houston location. Somehow, despite my best efforts, it took months to actually lunch with the ladies at Rise No. 2 in Post Oak. And while the jambon and gruyere soufflé was all that I hoped and more, I was equally impressed by the mini-shop at the entrance of the restaurant.
Rise, one has to understand, is designed to vaguely mimic an Alpine chalet (which is the perfect antidote to wet, chilly December days), and that investment includes all sorts of cute tabletop accoutrement—so, you know, why not go ahead and sell it?
The best of the offerings are the colorful napkins, which would also make great dish towels. Most of them riff on Rise's menu and Frenchiness, but there's also a turquoise version with the Houston skyline and an azure blue one that has a cheeky French take on football. The towels are made especially for the restaurant using the same fabrics and looms that have made similar textiles for 200 years, according to one hostess. They are also delightfully soft, $21 each, and perfect for anyone on your list.
Else where in the mini gift shop are French children's books (The Little Prince), French cookbooks and other textiles, as well as the unusual guillotines brought to every table with the bread service, glassware, French presses and Marseille's beloved Savon soaps, made in liquid form just for the restaurant.
Like Cuchara, which also turned its papular and unique serving ware and accessories from Mexico into a cottage business, Rise is selling not just its food (and its napkins), but a lifestyle brand. And best of all, in a gift pinch you can run to lunch and never even make a second stop. The wares will be greeted with endless mercis.